Friday, October 03, 2008

Game Preview - vs. Western Kentucky

On Saturday, the Virginia Tech Hokies football team takes on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers for their homecoming game of the 2008 season. Now, I can't claim to know what a Hilltopper is, and after doing the research to write this posting, I can't say that I have found out the answer either. Nonetheless, the Hokies play on them on Saturday.

Before we get into the specifics of the game, let me cover the pre-game events that impact the Hokie team at higher levels. Devon Morgan, Sophomore rover suffered a torn ACL of his right knee against Nebraska. As one of the rising stars of the rebuilding Hokie squad, he has started each of this season's previous five games. His surgery will happen soon, and he won't return until next season. Former backup quarterback to Sean Glennon, wide receiver Ike Whitaker has received an indefinite suspension due to violation of team policy. Like Branden Ore's mysterious departure, head coach Frank Beamer has stated that nobody will comment on the situation further.

The 'Toppers have already faced two powerhouse opponents this year in Alabama and Kentucky. Both of those games have resulted in lopsided scoring. David Wolke takes the helm at quarterback for the offense and in his Senior year with a lot of experience. To date he has outpaced his previous years in passing by throwing 641 yards and 8 touchdowns. Two of his previous seasons, he played the backup quarterback role for Notre Dame. He has since transferred to Western Kentucky for the starting job. The Hokie secondary has to contain Wolke's two top receivers Derrius Brooks and Jake Gaebler. The two have comparable numbers in reception combining for 166 yards. Tailbacks Tyrell Hayden and Bobby Rainey take most of the carries for the 'Toppers' running game. Both have a comparable amount of yardage gains in 270 yards combined, but Rainey has had less than half of the carries of Hayden. From these number, we can glean that Western Kentucky leans more so on their running game than passing, but it has the ability to do both.

Against Alabama, their defense allowed a mountain sized 557 yards of Rolling Tide offense, and likewise against Kentucky they allowed 398 yards of offense. This means that Virginia Tech's offense has an opportunity to try some new things where previous games really didn't grant such opportunities. I don't mean to sound overconfident because many of us remember the unexpected losses to Temple and Miami of Ohio in seasons past, but I do think this game presents an opportunity to develop the Hokies' young and rebuilding offense. Particularly, I'd like to see some long passing. Since Tyrod Taylor has taken the helm at quarterback, that aspect of the Hokie offense has not existed, and succeeding at higher levels of the NCAA requires that element to some extent, even if not as the dominant aspect to an offense. Before leaving this topic, I do want to point out a milestone achieved by the Hokie offesne last week against Nebraska: scoring in the first quarter. It had failed to do so in each of the prior games this season. Against a tough opponent like Nebraska, scoring early can create momentum that carries through the entire game.

I close with providing some trivia about the Hilltoppers.

The Red Towel[1]

The red towel is famous at WKU. The orgins of the towel come from Coach Diddle getting upset that the Athletic Towels were being stolen. So he decided that he wanted all of his towels Red. Well After they had the Red towels made, Diddle would throw it to the rafters, beat it on the floor, chew it, wave it, twist it, and even cry into it!

George Barker from the Nashville Tennessean described these various actions and interpreted their meanings as such:

Action - Meaning

Tossed in the air - Pure climatic joy

Whirled overhead - Satisfaction and high expectation

Slapped violently on the floor - Extreme disappointment with players or referee

Twisted or braided - Outcome doubtful

Chewed - Outcome VERY doubtful

Used to shield the eyes - Horror or Shakesperian-like dismay


Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008
Kickoff: 1:30 PM
Lane Stadium/Worsham Field
Blacksburg, Va.

Let's go Hokies!

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